October. My favorite month, but then again, I’m biased. I belong to those who are October-born, and “Libra” all the way through. Known as the tenth month of the year and the second month of autumn, October was the eighth month in the Roman calendar – hence “octo”, the Latin word for eight. When they converted to the twelve-month calendar, several Roman emperors tried to change the name, but it stuck when it entered into old French and then into old English.
When you think of October, it signifies everything autumnal. The weather is cooler at night, leaves are turning colors, and the long summer of working in the gardens is rewarded with bountiful harvests to put up for the long winter.
October has many days of observance too. There’s the Hunter’s Moon, the full moon closely tied to the autumnal equinox and folklore. There is Lief Eriksson Day, Columbus Day, and Indigenous People Day (an oxymoron having them in the same month, don’t you think?). International Ships in a Bottle Day, National Fossil Day, Word Origami Day, and Frankenstein Friday! And let’s not forget the original Friday the 13th, in October this year. That’s the day in 1307 when French King Philip IV, owing a large debt to the Knights Templar, ordered their arrest and burning at the stake. When their leader Sir Jacques De Moray was burning, he cursed the King and Pope Clement V that they would both meet their death before the end of the year. Both men did meet their demise shortly after, contributing to the clout of the lore about Friday the 13th.
Of course, how could we leave out the most popular day in October – Halloween? Also known as “All Hollows Eve”, the day before the Catholic holiday of “All Saints Day”. As “hollows” means saintly or holy, the name evolved into Halloween. There are many customs and practices of Halloween. The Irish used to hollow out turnips for candles and carve faces of demons on them. Placing it by your front door kept the evil spirits away. When immigrants came to America, there were no turnips, so they used the bountiful native pumpkins to carve. Corn husk dolls and shrunken carved apple heads were traditions taken from the Native Americans. There is also the ancient celebration of “Samhain”, a sacred Celtic and Druid festival honoring the harvest, the end of the year and when the spirits can cross over while the moon’s veil is at its thinnest.
All in all, October is a fun month! It embraces celebrating the end of the growing season before the earth goes into its winter sleep. This year the JCMGA is celebrating the wonderful year we have had by having a “Fall Festival”! It will be a small one-day event with native plant sales, several vendors, fall and holiday décor, dried flower bouquets, lavender from our demo garden, hanging glass garden mosaics, and a petting zoo with the “3 Amigos” – goats from Sanctuary One! So come on out on October 14th from 9am-2pm at the Extension and help us celebrate! Happy October!